Extra Love Needed: Meet Duke the Munchkin Kitty battling FIV

First, may I ask how old you are?
Where did your name come from?
Can you explain a bit about Feline Leukemia?
Are you taking any medications?
Do you have any other fursiblings you live with?
How are you doing now?
What is your favorite thing to do?
What would you or your mom like to say to people hesitant on taking in cats who have Feline Leukemia?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
May I do a dedication to your littermates and parents at the end of the article?


1. I turned 5 on March 30th 2014. This is a huge deal because a cat like me who is not being treated is not expected to live even more than 1 year.

2. I was Named Duke because I had a twin sister named Daisy. The two just seemed to go together quite well.

3. Feline leukemia virus is a transmittable retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats.
Because the virus doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away, any new cat entering a household—and any sick cat—should be tested for FeLV.

4. I am not taking any medications. The medications for Feline Leukemia are very expensive and research has shown they do not cure the Disease just prolong life. I am on a natural diet with real meat, whole grains and vitamins needed for my body’s well being.

5. I Have 2 Fur~Brothers from other Mothers! The oldest of the 2 is Reid he is a 2 and a half year old Yorkshire Terrier. Him and I are in total competition for my Momma’s attention at all times! The other Brother is a 1 and a half year old Shi-Poo named Rocco. He is a big goof ball who enjoys sniffing my butt. He has too much energy for my taste but I love him anyway.

6. I am in a good place right now. I am weak and very aged. I sleep a lot and when I am awake I am loving on anyone who will take it. I take full advantage of everyone babying me and catering to my every need. It could be anytime that the Big Ol’ Kitty Master in the sky calls me home to take that trip over The Rainbow Bridge! I am at Peace and Momma gives me her Blessing every night before she sleeps. I am determined to live life with whatever energy I have left.

7. My favorite thing to do is lounge around the kitchen either in my Momma made fort or my bed are on top of the dryer. I don’t get around too quickly so if I want to move I usually holler as someone walks by and all my humans have learned that this means I want to tag along!

8. My Momma fell into a situation where she had to either love 19 terminally ill kittens or put them to death before their time. She felt she had no business ending lives so young, precious and ALIVE so she vowed to love us all and let us go as we needed to. She is so strong!! Here I am all these years later still living. She would say to anyone taking in a cat with Feline Leukemia these words:::…..”You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

9. Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

I would be honored for a dedication to all my littermaters and feel free to use whatever pictures you like.
Please share onto Duke’s facebook page and to this email once you have posted your blog. Thank You so much for this opportunity!

~Jennifer & Duke~

Birthday Wishes for Kitties & Pitties



Normally I do Birthday Wishes for Kitties and donate$1 for every birthday wish I get to Pet Guards Angels in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. But this year after hearing the incredible story of Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue from Tehachapi, CA who rescued Nacho – he was chained and bleeding when the rescue found him, they took him to the vet and he was bleeding from his nose, he got the vet care he needed, and is in foster care and doing well.


I wanted to do something to help this group save other dogs. So I decided to split the donations between Pet Guards Angels and Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue.


Between the 27th (today) and the 29th, for every birthday wish I get I will donate $1 up to $100 to each group. That’s a total of $200 coming out of my pocket to help cats & dogs.


How you can help:

Spread the word by sharing on Social Media. I want to give each rescue $100, so help me help them.

You can wish me happy birthday here, on the FB blog page, Twitter (@peaceluvnwhisker) or my personal FB Page. You can only do it once.


If you want to do more you can donate directly to their websites

Pet Guards Angels – the link is to the right and links to PayPal

Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue – this link goes directly to the donation page, you can donate once or monthly and once you fill out the form you will be taken to the donation page.


Thank you so much for helping me help kitties & pitties this year!



Extra Love Needed: Meet Beanie

May I ask how old you are?

About 5-6 years old. The shelter didn’t have an exact age.

Beanie in his new home

Where did your name come from?

It came from the woman I lived with before my new home. She had to go to a nursing home and her other cats (my mom and dad don’t know how many) were all adopted but me. No one wanted me because I was blind. That made me very sad. Then the Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary in North Carolina put up a notice about me on Facebook and my new mom saw it and called them immediately. She filled out the application, but was number two on the list. The number one lady lived in Connecticut and she decided it would be a long scary ride for me to take so she let me go to my mom since we were both in Maryland. My new mom said she didn’t want to change my name because she knew that it would be the only thing I’d recognize when she took me to my new home.

Were you born blind or did you become blind over time?

I was born blind.

Were you excited to get your very own forever home?

When I first got to my new home, I was very afraid and I hid under a bed for about two weeks. I’d slink out to eat and use the litter box and quickly run back under the bed. But as I got braver and started coming out more and more I found out that my new family was nice and only wanted to love me and take good care of me. What kitty wouldn’t love that?! And I felt good knowing there was another cat to keep my company when the humans weren’t home.

Meeting Buster his new brofur

Was it scary riding in the car?

It was! I was very quiet and didn’t move even though my new mom spoke to me all the way home. I didn’t recognize any of the sounds and none of the voices. My mom and dad had to come to what they call the Eastern Shore in Maryland to get me from the shelter and take me back across a big bridge to where they live.

How long did it take for you and Buster to get used to each other?

Not too long. My new mom and dad put up a baby gate so that Buster could see me and I could smell him, but I surprised them by jumping over the gate the first day! MOL! I might be blind, but that doesn’t stop me from being a cat! Ever since then, Buster and I have been friends.

Did your mom have to make any adjustments to make sure you could get around easy?

Not really. With my long whiskers and super-power hearing, nothing much gets by me! She was afraid I wouldn’t find my food or the litter box so she kept everything in one room with me. After a few days they started moving everything back to where Buster always had the little box and food and I had no trouble finding either one! Buster and I have a very tall cat tower with three perches and I jump up into the bottom one and Buster uses the middle one. My mom and dad were surprised to come in the door one day and see me lying up in Buster’s! To this day, they don’t know how I got up there! MOL!

Picking out a toy to play with

What are you favorite things to do?

I have a favorite mouse that used to be tethered to a pole, but I wanted it so bad I pulled it off! Now I walk around with it in my mouth and meow very loudly so everyone knows I caught it again! I also love to take it to my mom’s pillow every night as a gift and she’s most appreciative and tells me what a good hunter I am!

My favorite place to be is wherever my mom is. I sleep with her at night and when she’s home, I lay down next to her.

I also love to stalk and chase Buster through the condo! Sometimes he gets upset and bats at me, but that never stops me. It might not be fun for him, but it’s fun for me! (My mom said it’s kitty karma because Buster used to chase Chi-Chi!)

Enjoying some time in the cat tree

Questions for your mom – Is this your first blind cat?

Yes. I read the book, Homer the Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper, and it made me want to have a blind cat myself. I was super excited to go get Beanie once we were approved and I’ve never regretted a second of having him share our lives. I would recommend having a blind cat to anyone.

Are there things that Beanie can’t do?

One thing I don’t allow Beanie to do is to go out on the patio. I will occasionally let Buster out there, but I’m afraid to let Beanie out because we live on the second floor. He might be fine, but I’m afraid he might try jumping up over the railing so I don’t let him go out there. Other than that, I’ve haven’t found much of anything else. No one told him he’s blind and he doesn’t feel limited. One day I was listening to an email a friend sent me that contained the songs of different birds. As I was playing the various songs, Beanie was sitting in front of our patio door and looking up out the window with his head tipped listening for the birds. Even though he’s never seen one, his instincts still kick in! We also feed hummingbirds on our patio and Beanie listens to the hum of their wings when they’re at the feeder.

Also, I travel to New York quite often to visit my family. I used to bring Buster (and Chi-Chi, our other cat who has since gone to the Rainbow Bridge) with me when I went. I won’t bring Beanie because I know he’d be lost and scared there and wouldn’t know where anything is. I know it would also be a frightening ride for him since it’s six hours of driving each way. So we now hire a cat sitter to come in to check on the cats each day when we’re gone.

How long did it take for Beanie to get used to his surroundings?

It was only a couple of weeks. He warmed up to everything quicker than we expected and we were amazed at how well he adapted.

What would you like to say to people who are hesitant on adopting a blind cat?

Don’t hesitate at all! Beanie is such a joy and he’s a truly affectionate cat. I can’t imagine my life now without him and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to adopt another one.

Relaxing Sundays are the best!

How had Beanie changed your perception of blind cats?

I always thought it would be very limiting to have a blind cat in the home, but I now know that they’re just as easy to take care of as a sighted cat and the joy he brings is unlimited! I now encourage people to adopt blind cats.

Is there anything you or Beanie would like to add?

Beanie would like everyone to know that he and other blind cats will bring you love and happiness like you’ve never known before. And I can’t stress enough how much my life has been enriched since we brought Beanie into our lives and home. If anyone decides to adopt a blind cat, you will never regret it! I will definitely do it again.

Buster & Beanie


Author’s Note: Many thanks to Beanie & his mom for letting me interview them both. Pictures were used with permission. Please visit Beanie on his Facebook page – Beanie (The Blind Cat)


This article is a part of the Extra Love Needed Theme. Please click on the below page for more articles on pets that need extra love and care.


Why Blog?

After doing a lot of soul searching and questioning why I do what I do and thinking about quitting – on more than one occasion- I’ve decided to explain why I keep going.

First and foremost it’s not about me, it’s about sharing the stories of these amazing pets, the ones that need the extra love & care due to previous abuse or physical differences. It’s about raising awareness and taking a stand against BSL, declawing, debarking, tail docking and other barbaric practices that leave our furry, feathered and finned companions mutilated.

Getting the chance to share the stories of sadness, hope and triumph makes it worth while for me. There are times when I don’t feel like blogging, but then I look at videos, read stories and see pictures of these amazing pets overcoming challenges and I can’t not share them.

So that is why I blog. I don’t do it for the freebies from companies, the conferences or monetary reasons, I do it in the hopes that I can change one person’s mind about taking in a pet that needs extra love or a pit bull or volunteering at a shelter or taking in a sickly fur baby or helping someone take a stand against BSL, declawing, debarking, tail docking then I have done my job.

No amount of freebies or money could give me a better feeling.

So thanks for sticking around and let me know if there is a topic you would like to see covered on the blog, if I don’t know about it I will reach out to some of my pet loving friends and fellow bloggers to see if they would mind guest posting.


Thank you again.

Extra Loved Needed: Meet Melody

How old are you?
I just turned one year old! The nice people at the shelter estimated my birthday to be July 16, 2013.

Where did your name come from?

My mom rescued me at a music festival, so she had to name me something music related! My name at the shelter was actually Melody Star (for the Star of Bethlehem, because the music festival was in Bethlehem, PA). Often mom likes to call me Mellie or Moose!

How did you come to your forever home?
Answered by my mom: In August, there is a local yearly festival called Musikfest. While we were there one night last year, we walked passed some teenagers standing by a box. The first time I contained myself and just kept walking. The second time we passed that area, I saw another teenager walking away from them with a kitten sticking out of her purse. That was all I needed to see! I walked over and started talking to the young boy “watching” the box. He said they had found the kittens and were trying to find homes for them (I do commend them, they were trying to help!). There was 1 kitten left, but it was already “promised” to someone. While talking to him, I observed that the kitten was too young to be away from its mother, and that they had a little dish of tuna they were trying to feed them. Then, as one of the girls came over and picked the lone kitten up, I noticed she had what looked to be very infected eyes. Long story short, I was able to convince them to give me the kitten to take to the shelter we volunteer and foster for (The Center for Animal Health and Welfare in Easton, PA) since it really needed medical attention. At this point, I didn’t know what I was getting into and hadn’t even called the shelter to be sure they would accept her, but I knew the kitten needed help.
The next morning, I took the kitten to be evaluated at the shelter and kept her to foster. At that time she weighed 7 ounces. On Melody’s half-birthday- January 16, 2014 we officially became foster failures and signed her adoption papers! Melody was born with Microphthalmia, so her eyes never developed. She was blind from birth. It was recommended that we remove her eyes as not to have a risk of cancer in the future.

Do you live with any fursiblings?

I have two fur brothers: Socks and Sawyer, and two fur sisters: Mona and Eclair. Mom and Dad still foster for the shelter, so there are also always a number of foster kittens or adults for socialization in the house to play with.

What is your favorite thing to do?
I love to play with toys- especially ones that make noise that I can follow easier. I also enjoy when Mom takes me places and I get lots of love and pets from people!

This is a question for your mom: Have you ever had a blind cat before?
No! I’ve seen cats at the shelter that had to have one eye removed or had some scarring, but never one that was completely blind. We were a bit hesitant taking her into foster, but we had read Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper about a blind cat and knew she would be fine.

Did you need to make any special adjustments to your house for her?
Not really. Melody has been with us since she was very tiny, so she grew up with everything how it is. She did go to my sister’s house while we were on vacation and learned the layout of the house in 2 days!

What would you like to tell others about blind cats?
Don’t feel bad for them! I had people tell me when she was little that she should just be put down because she wouldn’t have a good life. Melody was born blind, so she doesn’t know any different. Get to know them and you will find that they are just normal cats- they eat, walk around the house, use their litter box, play, and snuggle (and get into trouble!).

How long did it take for her to heal from her surgery?
Melody has had 3 surgeries so far. The first she was spayed and they removed a portion of her third eyelid on each eye to be sure it wasn’t blocking any vision she might have had. The second was to remove her left eye. The third was to remove her right eye. She recovered from all of them within a few days. The third one she ended up ripping out half of her stitches the night after her surgery so we had to go to the emergency vet and they put staples in.

Does she need any additional help/care?
Melody needs no further surgeries and is a happy and healthy girl!

Is there anything you would like to add about her?
Melody is a great cat, and I feel like she was brought into our lives for a reason. She opens people’s eyes about how normal a “special needs” cat can be. She loves being pet and being social when we have her out, so we are thinking about getting her certified as a therapy cat. I just need to find the time to be able to take her to places on a regular basis! We love that it makes her happy to make others happy and do good for others- both humans and other animals waiting for their forever homes!


Author’s Note: Many thanks to Melody & her mom for answering the questions. Pictures were used with permission. Please visit her on her Facebook page – Melody the Rescue Cat: Love is Blind


This article is a part of the Extra Love Needed Theme. Please click on the below page for more articles on pets that need extra love and care.


Extra Love Needed: Meet Pip

How old are you?

I turned 2 in March

Where did your name come from?

Mom thought I looked like a Pip.

I read you made quite a journey to your forever home, can you tell me about it?

A woman in Nebraska found me amongst a litter of stray kittens. All of my brothers and sisters had average legs; I’m the only special one. But the lady who found us felt she couldn’t care for my special needs, so she reached out to social media. Word spread, and Tenth Life heard about me. Within a day, volunteers had agreed to transport me ALL the way to St. Louis!

Were you scared?

Nah, I’m an outgoing guy who loves an adventure. Plus, I was only 4 weeks old and didn’t know the dangers (and excitement!) that the world held.

How many different vets did you see about your legs?

I started off seeing my favorite vet, Dr. K. She took X-rays of my legs and sent them to specialists all around St. Louis. When they couldn’t decide what to do with me, she enlisted the help of an orthopedic specialist at the University of Missouri. Clearly, I’m special – it took a lot of super-smart people to figure out how awesome I am 😉 They all agreed that I was getting around fine just the way I was born. So I’m on a “wait-and-see approach,” as mom says. So far, so good!

How many fursiblings do you live with?

I have five permanent fur-siblings, and an ever-changing number of foster siblings. Mom always has someone new she’s trying to help!

Does anyone treat you different?

If you think being adored by thousands is being treated different, then yes!

Is there anything you can’t do?

Absolutely not!!! I run, jump, play, and even attack my siblings. Although I do prefer carpeting.

What would you like to say to cats that are like you awaiting their forever homes?

Hang in there, my friends! Though it may take longer than you want, the perfect family for you is out there! They just have to realize how awesome you are. And if a different-looking fellow like me can find a loving home, you can too!

These questions are for your mom: Have you ever had a cat like Pip before?

Pip was Tenth Life’s first kitty with a congenital condition like this. However, after we helped Pip, we had several other kitties with the same or a similar condition to him. Though kitties like Pip may have physical difficulties down the road, they fare well if simple accommodations are made in the home. Soft surfaces are easier for them to handle, and a close eye must be kept on their joints, since those bear the brunt of the cat’s weight. Pip has a very strong callous on his left front elbow (he holds the other front leg up against his body when he walks).

What are some adjustments you had to make for Pip?

We added rugs to our mostly-hardwood-floored home. Other than that, not much. We already provide low-sided litter boxes for our other kitties with special needs, so he assimilated very easily!

Why did you choose not to take the specialists recommendations for Pip?

We actually did take the recommendations of the specialists. The only alternative to letting him live as-is was athrodesing his joints, which presented another whole category of problems; he wouldn’t be able to bend his legs at all and would make him more susceptible to breakage every time he jumped down from somewhere. Our regular vet and the orthopedic specialist agreed that Pip was better off without medical intervention. They did advise that we reevaluate his comfort regularly and make adjustments accordingly. But so far, he shows ZERO signs of discomfort 🙂

What would you like to say to people who are worried that cats that need extra love & attention won’t have a high quality of life?

It may be more work to care for cats with special needs, but the rewards more than make up for the extra efforts. In my 3 decades of experience with cats (over 10 years professionally), I’ve found that the cats who need our love the most seem to appreciate it the most. There’s something very special about one’s bond with a cat who has been through a lot of medical treatment, abuse, or mistreatment. It’s something I can recommend to those who truly love companion animals.

What tips/advice do you have for first time parents of pets that need extra love & care?

Find an amazing vet you trust. Many vets don’t understand cats; do your research. I’ve encountered too many veterinarians who have only a perfunctory knowledge of cat care. Coming to appointments prepared, yet not combative or defensive, can be your greatest asset. Additionally, please BUDGET for pets with special needs. Medical bills add up incredibly quickly, and nothing is more upsetting than being unable to give your pet the care he/she needs when the time comes.

Is there anything you would like to add about Tenth Life Cats?

Tenth Life is my heart and soul; my passion. I want the world to know that cats with special needs are so incredibly deserving of wonderful lives, but they need our help. Additionally, ourcounty needs help when it comes to appreciating cats and their amazing qualities. Tenth Life exists to elevate cats’ status in the public eye and to do everything possible to make life better for felines with and without special needs.

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Pip & his mom for letting me ask questions about Pip. Pictures were used with permission. Please visit his facebook page – Pip the Wonder Kitty.

This article is a part of the Extra Love Needed Theme, click on the badge below for more interviews with pets that need extra love & care.


Declawing a cat & why it is wrong

Onychectomy: surgical excision of a fingernail or toenail (according to Merriam- Webster)

I wanted to start off Friday with something a bit different.  I got a chance to watch the Paw Project on Netflix as recommended by several people I know and it was heartbreaking. It started off with one mobile vet treating large cats who had been declawed who were getting infections due to the declawing. This led her to think about our domestic companions which led her on a campaign to stop declawing. The movie starts in 2009 and ends in 2010 after 8 cities in California pass the ban on declawing. The movie interviews several vets and vet techs and they go into the gruesome truth that is declawing and mention something I have never heard of which is called a tendonectomy, which is an alternative to declawing and in hearing what it is I was even more horrified.

A ligament is cut on the underside of each toe to prevent grasping motions. The claws remain but the cat cannot extend them. 

Because the cat can no longer make grasping motions, the claws will naturally grow in a circular manner into the foot pads causing pain and infection unless the owner is able to trim the nails on a regular basis. (The tendonectomy patient will require life-long regular nail-clipping.).

The August 1, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reports a study that compared the long and short term complications of tendonectomy vs. those of traditional declaw. Owner satisfaction with both procedures was also measured. While cats who received the tendonectomy showed significantly lower pain scores immediately post operatively, both procedures showed an equal frequency of other complications (bleeding, lameness, and infection). 

(Taken from  http://www.pet-dog-cat-supply-store.com/tendonectomy.php)

DECLAW and TENDONECTOMY Most cat owners at some point face the decision on whether to declaw their feline companion at the time of the neuter or spay surgery. Most concerns regarding this procedure center on patient discomfort. At Jane Animal Hospital, we routinely perform feline front declaw, however we also want to make aware an alternative procedure that can achieve the same desired result. Feline tendonectomy is a surgical procedure also offered to feline patients. declaw1 What is involved in a feline declaw? A feline declaw is the surgical removal of the third digit on each forelimb digit. Ideally, this procedure is performed during the spay/neuter surgery at 6 months of age. All declawed cats should remain indoors.   declaw2  What is involved in a feline tendonectomy? The flexor tendon at the base of each digit on a cat’s paw is responsible for pushing out the claws when flexed. In a feline tendonectomy, this tendon is severed and the claws remain permanently retracted, limiting the cat’s ability to scratch. After the tendonectomy, your cat’s nails will need to be routinely clipped. Owners who are unable or unwilling to trim nails every 2 weeks will be advised against this procedure. (Taken from http://janeanimalhospital.ca/education-center/spay-and-neuter/declaw-and-tendonectomy.html)

Why would any cat lover/owner/parent even consider mutilating their feline companion like this? Because they want to save their furniture, their kids, themselves from getting scratched. As a cat guardian/parent, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten clawed and scratched by my cats (I have four), they have destroyed an office chair I got at goodwill, clawed my leather couch, scratched the carpet and den couch and yet they have three cat trees and that’s just what they’ve done with their claws. I don’t get mad at them, yes it hurts when they scratch me but I know they are cats. They scratch because it is in their nature to mark territory or I’ve done something to upset them. Declawing is an inhumane practice that should be banned in the U.S.  It is cruel and leaves the cat no only without their natural defenses but alters the cats behavior.

If you have a cat or know someone who has a cat and are considering declawing, stop and think about the following:

  • Is your furniture really worth the health of your cat?
  • What if they got outside?
  • What if they are on pain meds for life?
  • What if they couldn’t walk or started biting?
  • Or started to urinate on your clothes?
  • Is that really worth the $400-$800 to save a piece of furniture that can easily be replaced?

Extra Love Needed: Meet Kona

May I ask how old you are? 

I am one year old today!  


Where did your beautiful name come from?

My mom said it means King of the World…and I am king of my world!


How did you find your forever home?

 My mommy wanted a rag doll kitten so she looked for breeders in Tampa, Florida.  


Can you tell me a bit about FIP and how you were diagnosed?

FIP is a terrible virus that some of us get sick from.  You can read more about it on catvirus.com.  


Are you on any medications?

I was diagnosed 2 months ago because I was not acting right, not eating as much and seemed uninterested in play.  My mom took me to the doctor and they found out that I am very anemic, and my protein levels were very high.  They took X-rays and round that I had enlarged kidneys, lymph nodes and heart.  I then had a sonogram done by a specialist and they found that my spleen was enlarged as well and my retinas were slightly detached also.  They gave me weeks to maybe a few months to live.


Does your mom have to take any precautions if she touches you?

I am on prednisolone which is a steroid and Buprenex, which is a painkiller.  Mom tried PI but it did no good and will not use it anymore.  No, I am not contagious….anyone can play with me.  I actually caught the virus from another cat at the breeder and my immune system could not fight it so I got really sick, where other kitties do not.  


You have such a beautiful coat, are you part Siamese?

I think I am part Siamese and Burmese….I am ragdoll.


What is your favorite thing to do?

 My favorite thing to do is play and be with my Mom.  I follow her all over.



Is there anything your mom would like to say about FIP?

 My mom hates FIP and never heard of it until I got sick.  She had 3 kitties before me who were healthy.  She thinks people and vets should learn more about it.  

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Kona’s mom for answering the questions and letting me borrow a picture for use. Please visit Kona on his Facebook page – Kona’s Story – Fighting FIP


This article is a part of the Extra Love Needed theme. Please click on the below badge for more interviews with pets that need extra love & care.




Extra Love Needed: Meet Autumn

Miss Autumn

Where did her name come from?

Autumn was named for the month we found her in, it was late October.

How did she spend her 10th birthday?
She spent her 10th birthday swimming, and the kids in the neighborhood sang to her.

How did she find her forever home?
Autumn showed up one cold October night when my fiancee was leaving to work the night shift. She came running over to him with a leash and collar on her. He drove around and tried to find the owner and then she spent a week in the shelter while they tried to find the owner. We were then allowed to adopt her.

Does she have any fursiblings you live with?
She had a best friend named Kobe who passed away December of 2011. She has 3 cat siblings, Garfield, Gizmo and Kiki.

When was she first diagnosed with DM?
She started showing signs of DM in November of 2011, actual diagnosis was march of 2012.
There is no cure for DM. Some of the things people do to slow progression is exercising, swimming, cart. There are different vitamins and supplements people use, fish oil, vitamin e, vitamin c, aminocaproic acid to name a few.

What other information would you like to share about DM?
People should look out for changes in their pets gait, dragging or scraping of nails when they walk. It used to be primarily a disease that affected german shepherds but now the list of breeds affected is quite long.

What are some of Autumn’s favorite things to do? 
Autumn’s favorite thing to do is to swim. She also likes to go for walks and bark at people and eat meatballs and arbys sandwiches.
We would like people to know that despite the devastating diagnosis of DM, you can still live a happy life with caring dedicated family. We started her page to raise awareness for DM, and to inspire others to never give up hope.

Her Story:
Autumn came into our lives when she was about 4 months old. She has been an absolute delight, very sweet and full of life. In November of 2011 she started dragging her back leg, and we found out she had this horrible disease we had never heard of called Degenerative Myelopathy. We were so devastated and very frustrated that the vets didn’t seem to know much about it, and that there
is no cure. Once we accepted that it is what it is, we decided to try and turn it into
i something positive, and we started this page to educate others about Degenerative Myelopathy, and living with a special needs pet. We want to show people that there is still life after a DM diagnosos, and to not give up. This is a horrible disease, but we are not giving up , We consider every day with Autumn a blessing, she inspires us each and every day, she loves life, doesn’t feel sorry for herself, and she makes our day, every day. When we first found out she had this, we were told she would only have 6 months to a year, That was 2 and a half years ago, and she has proven them wrong………one of our favorite quotes to live by is “Where there is great love, there are always miracles”. Since her diagnosis, she has inspired people from all over the world, We hope she will inspire you, and make her way into your hearts ♥

About Degenerative Myelopathy – DM

Degenerative myelopathy initially affects the back legs and causes muscle weakness and loss, and lack of coordination. These cause a staggering effect that may appear to be arthritis. The dog may drag one or both rear paws when it walks. This dragging can cause the nails of one foot to be worn down. The condition may lead to extensive paralysis of the back legs. As the disease progresses, the animal may display symptoms such as incontinence and has considerable difficulties with both balance and walking. If allowed to progress, the animal will show front limb involvement and extensive muscle atrophy. Eventually cranial nerve or respiratory muscle involvement necessitates euthanasia.
Severity – 5
Degenerative Myelopathy has an extreme degree of severity.

Progression of the disease is generally slow but highly variable. The animal could be crippled within a few months, or may survive up to three years.
Weakness in the hind end
Toe nail wear in the hind feet
Slow reflexes in the hind feet and legs
Trouble getting up
Loss of coordination in the hind legs
Loss of muscle mass in the hind end

Genetic Testing
Genetic Technologies provides a test for Degenerative Myelopathy ORDER A TEST

Breeds Affected
Bernese Mountain Dog
Wheaten Terrier (soft coated)
Golden Retriever
Kerry Blue Terrier
Welsh Corgi Pembroke
Shetland Sheep Dog
German Shepherd
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Welsh Corgi Cardigan
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Fox Terrier Wire Haired
Great Pyrenees

 Author’s Note: Many thanks to Autumn’s wonderful mom for letting me ask questions and sharing her story. You can visit her on her page – Autumn’s Journey Pictures were used with permission. 


This article is a part of the Extra Love Needed theme. Please click on the below badge for more interviews with pets that need extra love & care.


Extra Love Needed: Meet Easter the Extraordinarily Optimistic Kitten

Easter was named after a Tori Amos song that I hold dear.
Her story is as follows:
This is Easter. She is 6 mths old and has had a very tough start. Her mom was dumped with some other cats in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia where they went to live in a lady’s yard. The lady spayed and neutered all of them but two had kittens while this was happening. Easter is one of those kittens. She snuck off when she was very young with a sibling and didn’t come back for a long time. When she returned to the barn she had a very bad eye infection. The lady was unable to pay for the surgery she needed and didn’t have anywhere to keep her inside for recovery and feared she would need a life as an inside cat so I stepped in to help. I am active in animal rescue/rehab and work with the Wythe-Bland Animal Welfare League in SW Virginia and have 3 dogs, 12 indoor cats, 1 elderly chinchilla, 14 chickens and 5 alpacas on my farm. We raised money for her eye surgery in a day or two and she was taken in immediately to a local vet who will remain unnamed but did a very poor quality job on her enucleation. In fact, she didn’t remove the eye at all but simply sewed it shut which trapped the harmful bacteria and infection inside. The vet swore that the eye had been removed by her personally and was very upset that I tookEaster to my personal vet for a follow up 2 days after the supposed surgery. She was not sent home with antibiotics or pain medication. When she came to me that first day her face was covered in matted blood, she was violently shaking and could barely see at all. I thought she was going to die but she just purred so much when I held her.  Her eye socket was filled with horrible bacteria and would not have healed if not reopened, drained and cleaned. She had 3 surgeries before Virginia Tech finally found her eye deep within her face and removed it. The vet has been turned in to the VA State Vet Board and I am currently seeking legal assistance. No animal should ever suffer like that.
Easter & her minion, Bones
She came to live with me the day of her surgery and we have fallen in love. She came down with a very serious stomach problem in the end of January and was on her way out of this life when I decided to take her from my vet’s office and take her to the Virginia-Maryland Vet School on the Virginia Tech Campus in Blacksburg, VA. The Sunday that she became extremely ill and I was sure she would die happened to also be the day my Dad died two years ago from a month long battle with stage 4 cancer. It was a hard day. I couldn’t let her die too. On the way there I thought she had died several times and would tap her to make sure she was ok. She crawled on her belly out of her box and laid her head on my hand while I was driving and purred. The Virginia Tech School is absolutely amazing and expensive. We raised enough money to cover her stay in the ICU for two days. While the doctors were admitting her to the ICU and assessing her condition she found the energy to launch from the counter and onto my chest where she would then climb me like a tree and snuggle with my face while purring. She had extreme symptoms of parvo but never tested positive for it or anything else. Feline parvo isn’t easily diagnosed and to date there are no accurate tests. Her brothers and sisters are all in good health and all of my cats are vaccinated and in good health so it is assumed that she caught a nasty virus from the unnamed vet she went to for the enucleation. The vet is known for it’s horribly unsanitary conditions. If it was parvo, we all got very lucky and it has not spread to anyone else here and since she survived it she can never get it again. That’s IF she had parvo. She did have internal bleeding and some very serious issues from being so dehydrated. She never gave up and neither did I.
Easter being melodramatic
She has been very slowly recovering from her awful diarrhea and has put on some weight though she is still under 5 lbs and thin. She went back to Virginia Tech to have her 2 week checkup and her eye was still not healed from the first surgery at the unnamed vet so they decided it was time to reopen it and get it done right. I took her back to Virginia Tech a few days later for her surgery (after getting a foot and a half of snow) and she did great. She was immediately happy and ready to play after the surgery. About a week went by and I noticed her eye socket looked a little puffy and she seemed sad. I rushed her back to Virginia Tech that day and they did a ultrasound on her eye socket, found infection, drained it and put in an umbilical string so I could continue to drain it at home. They had also done a culture on her eye bacteria and ear bacteria when they had her sedated for the second enucleation. The bacteria in her eye socket is a very resistant bacteria, pseudomonas. It is from having so much bacteria in her eye socket because it was not done properly the first time and from being on so many antibiotics. The antibiotics allowed only the strongest bacteria to survive which turned them into a super strong, resistant bacteria. The antibiotic used to treat this strain of super bacteria is very dangerous for kittens and can harm the cartridge in their bones thus stunting their growth. It can also cause the retina to separate causing blindness. It’s the only shot we had though so we did it and didn’t look back. Her final eye surgery came after the swelling came back after her drain was removed. I was so sad for her. Virginia Tech actually found her eye deep within her face in that final surgery confirming my deepest fear that her eye was still there and the awful vet never even removed it. Since then she has slowly healed and is finally in good shape. She has some trouble with her eye that’s left but she’s alive. So far, so good. I’m not sure if she’s better or if we’re just waiting for another problem to surface. Easter turned 6 months old on 4/20 and we went out in her stroller to a park to celebrate. She walks on a harness and loves car rides. She has been playing like crazy and wants me to carry her everywhere. If I choose to ignore that, she has no problem racing up my leg and onto my shoulder. She is a true fighter and no matter what awful things she’s gone through she’s never stopped purring. That’s her story so far. She’s such an inspiration to me.
Kittenploza! Kittens that were up for adoption.
How did you get involved with rescuing/rehabbing animals?
She liked l of the other cats I have and instantly bonded with an x-feral cat a few months older than she is named Simon SpaghettiO.
How long did it take for her to walk on a leash?
She figured the leash out pretty fast but it is still a work in progress.
Has she met the alpacas?
She’s met the alpacas and is freaked out by their weirdness. Most everyone is though.
Bones looking out for his “mom” while she rests
How did you get involved with rescuing/rehabbing animals?
I have always rescued animals. It’s the way I was raised. I’ve never actually had my own rescue but I’ve always taken in and cared for any animal that needed it. I’ve rehabbed, cats, dogs, opossums, rabbits, chinchillas, alpacas, chickens, frogs, lizards, birds, praying mantises, and I’m probably forgetting a few. It gives my life meaning.
What is a typical day like for Easter?
A typical day for Easter is to wake up at 5, wash my face, play with her Mardi Gras beads and the qtips, eat breakfast, take all of the cat litter out if the litter box, play in it, race up the curtains, play with Simon, sleep, eat again, go run errands with me or go outside on her leash or in her stroller, watch tv, try to get Smiley O’Meowy to wash her, fight with Simon, harass whatever rescue I have in the quarantine room, play with Simon some more, go to bed with me and insist I play fetch with the beads, play catch with her ball, practice jumping, take everything off my table and go to sleep wrapped around my head like a hat. 🙂 longest run on sentence ever?
What would you like to say to others who are considering taking in a pet that needs extra love and care?
Everyone should have at least one cat. They are wonderful companions. Taking in a special needs animal provides a destination for your life. It sets the time for what you can do if you put your mind to it. Always make sure you know what you’re getting into, do your research and have a good vet on hand. Anyone is capable of helping an animal in need. I wish more people would help homeless cats. Spaying and neutering your animals is so important. Also, always make sure your cats are tested for felv/FIV and given the appropriate vaccines. I cannot stress that enough. Anytime you notice your animal friend acting differently, be aware and watch for signs that something is wrong. Cats are great at hiding illness and pain.
Is there anything else would you like to say about yourself or your family?
Also, we still have a donation site to help with her expenses and the ongoing cat rescue effort that I am part of in this community that does not support cat rescue. I am privately TNR’ing cats, transporting them to and back from the clinic, getting them tested, giving them homes or releasing them. It’s expensive. I operate my own etsy farm store, eBay store, have a pet sitting business Katie’s Critter Sitting and work with a rescue friend who owns A Dog’s World Day Spa in Wytheville, VA. I am an active member of the Wythe-Bland Animal Welfare League.
Easter relaxing

Author’s Note: Many thanks to the patience of Easter’s mom – I am so very truly sorry for the delay in posting.. Pictures were used with permission. Please visit Easter’s Facebook Page – Easter the Extraordinarily Optimistic Kitten & visit the Kittens of the Misfit Critter Farm & Sanctuary 

This article is a part of the Extra Love Needed theme. Please click on the below badge for more interviews with pets that need extra love & care.